EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS

Stuart Martin finds there’s much to like about the top-spec Triton.

The all-rounder is a term that can be applied to many of the dual-cab utes now on the market, and Mitsubishi’s Triton certainly falls into that category.

The Exceed flagship is a versatile and well-equipped load-lugger, and, if you can get beyond the polarising exterior, there’s much to like.

The top-spec Triton asks $47,790 and that undercuts many its rivals, most of which (apart for the Nissan Navara) dwell on the other side of $50,000.

The features list does the price tag some justice, with dual-zone climate control, although minus rear vents, which is an oversight not exclusive to the Triton in this segment. The steering and seating position benefits from reach and rake adjustment (a rarity in this realm), plus there is cruise control, keyless entry and ignition, power-adjustable folding door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with sound, phone and cruise controls.

And there’s more to come, with leather trim, power adjustment for the driver’s seat, a touchscreen-controlled infotainment system with sat/nav and a six-speaker sound system with digital radio, Bluetooth and USB input and a trip computer.Mitsubishi_Triton_9

It sits on 17-inch alloy wheels and has mudflaps all round, chrome exterior trim bits, as well as front fog lights, tubular side steps and a sports bar, which is only there for aesthetic value. The test ute also had the hard tonneau, which looks neat but doesn’t do much for load-carrying versatility.

A single-strap unlock mechanism for the rear seat backrest requires familiarity in order to access the integrated child seat anchor points for the sporadic school run. It’s a better system than that now offered by Navara and HiLux, but the absence of rear vents and a 12-volt socket is an oversight sadly not restricted to the Mitsubishi.

Wearing a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the top-spec Triton has a reversing camera (but sadly rear parking sensors are an accessory), dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (retaining the rear drums), stability and traction control, with a trailer stability assist function which allegedly stops trailer oscillation.

While the Triton includes trailer stability assist among its arsenal of safety features, a towing test involving a two-tonne load of long timber lengths on a car trailer inadvertently tested the system’s ability.

While the car remained heading in the right direction, there was plenty of the tail wagging the dog, well beyond the point of driver comfort, suggesting that if there was any electronic interference or assistance it certainly wasn’t that obvious.

Other towing jobs showed the driveline and rear suspension had enough grunt to pull a decent weight without great concern for forward progress, but its lighter kerb weight (albeit supplying a good power to weight ratio) may detract from its appeal for regular towing.

There’s also rain-sensing wipers, automatic Xenon headlights, daytime LED running lights and a full-size matching spare wheel.

Mitsubishi_Triton_3The cabin is quiet and comfortable for four adults, with good front-seat comfort and reasonable in-cabin storage.

Ride quality is more than acceptable for the most part, the front (independent wishbones, coil springs and anti-roll bar) doing a decent job at keeping comfort at good levels.

The rump is less effective when unladen, but once a few hundred kilos are installed in the tray it settles the rear end down to reasonable levels.

The tray is one of the smaller in the dual-cab sub-segment, measuring 1520 mm in overall length, 1470 mm in width (1085 mm between the wheel arches), with a side-sill height of 475 mm and a load floor that is 850 mm from the ground.

The rear tailgate doesn’t lock but the hard tonneau does, although the mechanism is finicky and sometimes difficult to use, not to mention reducing the effectiveness of the tray as a loadspace – perhaps a soft tonneau and no sports bar would be preferable.

A payload of 935 kg is within (but at the lower end of) the competitive set but not outstanding, and at 3100 kg the braked towing is more than useful but short of the segment leaders.

The updated Triton is powered by an alloy 2.4-litre with variable intake valve system, not a common feature; the 16-valve intercooled engine also has a variable-geometry turbocharger.

It produces peak power of 133 kW at 3500 rpm and peak torque of 430 Nm at 2500 rpm, teamed with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic, with the latter in the test vehicle.

It’s a flexible unit, with a decent amount of torque over a reasonable range, but, for outright grunt, it’s short of the admittedly thirstier power units used by Ford’s Ranger.

Fuel consumption for the 1965 kg dual-cab is a claimed 7.6 litres per 100 km from the 75-litre tank, despite retaining a five-speed automatic, which has a genuine manual gearshift available with paddle-shifters, as well as the versatile four-wheel-drive system that allows it to run in rear-drive/high-range or four-wheel-drive on sealed surfaces.

Fuel use hovered in the low double digits after some hard off-road work, but, after it had done some highway and easy commuting, the number on the trip computer settled to 9.8, which is decent for a big dual-cab ute, even one with the claimed best aerodynamic number of the segment.

It’s not the biggest in the segment, but it’s no shrinking violet either, at 5280 mm long, 1815 mm wide and 1780 mm tall, on a 3000 mm wheelbase.

The four-wheel-drive system is one of the better ones on offer, allowing the driver to run in rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive on the bitumen, leaving the centre diff unlocked for extra traction on wet sealed or A-grade unsealed surfaces.

Leaving it in RWD will wake up the stability control on fast dirt, particularly when unladen and over corrugations, which can unsettle it.

Mitsubishi_Triton_2Locking the centre (and rear if required) diff in and heading off the tar, there are 30-degree approach, 24-degree ramp-over and 22-degree departure angles (although the latter is hampered by the towbar).

Ground clearance is listed at 205 mm, which isn’t class-leading (a Subaru Forester lays claim to 220 mm), and neither is the 500 mm wading depth.

What will also cause concern for anyone getting off the beaten track is the low-slung installation of a harmonic mass dampener on the driveshaft ahead of the rear diff, which is there to suppress unwanted noise and vibration but doesn’t work as well if it gets hit, which is likely given its position.

The ute gets Mitsubishi’s five-year/100,000 km warranty (whichever comes first), with four years or 60,000 km (the interval is 12 months or 15,000 km) of capped-priced servicing (CPS) that ranges in price from $350 to $580.

There’s also a year of roadside assist that, on new vehicles, is extended for an additional 12 months each time the vehicle is serviced under the CPS program to a maximum of five years.

The new Triton is facing ever-stronger competition in this segment, and, while it is a much-improved vehicle, so is its opposition.

Value for money is one aspect that falls in favour of the Triton, and, while it’s mid-pack for other aspects, money does talk to many buyers.

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